Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Birds in the Bush

This is a familiar view to me and to many of you as well; out the east window of my studio in Pennsylvania. The slate-colored juncos are the early risers here. They spend winter nights in the protection of dense shrubbery so at first light they are up and looking to see what I've sprinkled on the snow for them to eat.

Mondays & Tuesdays are my Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project Feederwatch days, so no matter what I'm doing in th
e studio I have one eye on the birds. These are the birds I've seen Monday & Tuesday so far;
mourning dove, cardinal, blue jay, tree sparrow, common redpoll, house finch, goldfinch, tufted titmouse, white breasted nuthatch, black capped chickadee, goldfinch,red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, crow, starling and the dark-eyed (formerly slate-colored) junco. These are the regular customers in winter. If I am in Vermont on Mondays and Tuesdays I count there and I get pretty much the same birds with the red-breasted nuthatch, brown creeper and pileated woodpecker being more frequently seen than here at my particular PA location. I have not seen the Carolina wren this year and I would like to. Nor have I seen an owl or a hawk on count days, but I have seen evidence in the snow of their presence.

Juncos at Sunrise 12 x 16

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fields of Snow

Very pretty around here...lately. Amazing what a good whitewashing does for the place.

Fresh back in the studio from a late afternoon drive around my PA neighborhood I choose this subject photographed across the fields above Williams Pond. I use one of my favorite pastel papers; salmon-colored Sabretooth. It has a deep, open tooth, which means that the color of the paper will show through a bit in the finished painting. I started with a light wash of some purple/red pastel and turps and then worked 5 or 6 layers of very soft pastels into the tooth. I love the depth and complexity this paper gives; you can see into it...like looking through layers.

My snow scenes are popular; probably because they are warm...in hue.

Fields of Snow 12 x 16...I cropped it poorly when I photographed it...there is a bit more sky than seen here.

Gone is my PC world. So using my new Mac and my same old lousy camera skills makes everything take longer so I hesitate to photograph it again for the fourth time right now. I am loving the Mac, though... knew I would.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Easel Mania

I admit to having a deep and enduring interest in easels. This new David Sorg Easel is my largest (and heaviest!) so far. I've just started using it today to work on a snow scene and so far I like it very much. It is counterbalanced so that the painting can be raised or lowered effortlessly. It is on wheels (2 of which lock) so it can easily be moved around. And the paint tray and brush shelf are generous enough to stop dropped pastel sticks from going all the way to the floor and shattering. I can see that this easel will be even more useful when I am working on large scale paintings. It is a little congested in this area of my studio, but this is a temporary location. If my Vermont studio is even half as spacious as I imagine it will be, there will be plenty of room for the Sorg and all it's smaller companions.

How many easels can you find in this partial view of my studio? There are more in the closet including the folding one my grandparents gave me for my 11th birthday. It is too flimsy for working, but perfect for dragging out to a demo to display small finished work on...and 54 years later it is a symbol of my grandparents' interest in and love for me.

One can never have too many easels.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Return to Autumn

Some of you may recognize this to be the plein air painting demo I started in the garden on October 12, 2010 during the Artists' Open House Weekend. The time was right today to finally finish it...something about January makes me want to clean up leftover business. I'm glad I had this one hanging around.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


For the last few months my husband and I have been traveling back and forth between southern Vermont and our home of 35 years in Pennsylvania. We bought a house with 5 acres on Black Mountain near Brattleboro and are preparing to move there full time this summer. The frequent 5 hour trips back and forth, although providing a great chance for landscape viewing, often leave me feeling disoriented.

I think I'm going to go with the flow and make some paintings of two similar landscapes that may blend together in unknown ways. I'll be working on 12 x 16 boards with a plein air easel in VT and a new studio easel here in PA. The location of these pieces will be nebulous; somewhere between southern VT and northeastern PA; someplace between plein air & studio work. But the size and subject and medium will give me a sorely needed continuity right now. I may not know what clothes are in which closet in which state, but I'll be able to find my winter north woods color palette.

This is the first of the transitional pictures, as well as being the first painting of the year for me.

Transition #1 12 x 16 pastel

Popular Posts